On the heels of last week’s Scenes from a Marriage recommendation, I thought it might help balance things out if I recommended something a little less … damp? I started thinking about other marriage stories and suddenly recalled the 1990 adaptation of Evan S. Connell’s two novels Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, cleverly called Mr. & Mrs. Bridge.
You might already know the vague outlines of the plot: conservative Kansas City father (Paul Newman) grows increasingly distant from his progressive adult children while his wife (Joanne Woodward) tries to keep the peace. The end! That’s the whole plot! Oh and someone gets locked in a garage. Spoiler alert.
But as usual with even lesser Merchant/Ivory dealiebobs (this one falls between the quite dire Slaves of New York and the peerless Howards End), sometimes other things tell the story in a better way than the actual plot manages. Newman and Woodward do alllll of the heavy lifting (such as it is); once the movie is over, you can barely remember anyone else who was in it; that’s how good they are. But I mean: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Why are you looking for anything else?
But ha ha, the joke’s on me because after revisiting it thirty years later, I was surprised that it’s just as unsentimental and clear-eyed about the idea of wedded bliss as Scenes from a Marriage—though it is occasionally a sweet and warm kind of tender, and the production design does soften the blow a bit. Ultimately, it’s a lovely, thoughtful movie that’s worth a Saturday afternoon.
I promise next time I’ll recommend something hilarious and light. Or Howards End.